Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.

A/n: Thank you! Author's note on profile for very important information. A huge thank you and shout-out will be posted on my livejournal (under paddypie) so check it out! I can guarantee you'll be on there! I will be responding to reviews, so yeah...leave me a comment? Enjoy!

The Loft

Chapter Thirty-Four

The Flower Shop

It wasn't until the end of the day that Remus Lupin glimpsed a short view of the sunset. The clouds were following the light succinctly, and just past the horizon of the sky, bursts of color in red and orange made him hum in appreciation. The last vestiges of the sunlight clashed against the side of buildings across from his eyesight, and bright window panes nearly blinded him in its reflection. He grasped the water can on his counter and placed it on one of the flower brackets, beside a wayward Wisteria and the lonely Myrtle pot. The hours were coming to an end, as his flowers closed rhythmically for the night.

The day had been busy, and warm. Summer was on its way, the sun heating anything in its path with a hunger that made Remus energized and weightless. A cold wind from the north still blew, however, and he faced its frigid gale to contrast the warmth of the afternoon. Many customers had expressed their worry of a drought during the season, but Remus knew better. He knew in the ever resilient rainfall that came with the wind, and he knew because his flowers seemed happy. Well, as happy as a flower could be.

As he cleaned up and closed his doors, Remus adjusted to the oncoming chill with a sweater, taking care to count the money in the register and coax the Wisteria into behaving. Of Bleeding Hearts and Snapdragons, Remus had them all...he had roses and lilies and carnations, their many colors and distinctions just as various as a spring dusk. He had the sky and the moon, of which he could just barely see coming across the dwindling blue heaven. Among these many possessions, he reckoned there were personal belongings that meant more-much more.

His steps carried him across his shop, and outside, where people passed him with a somehow softer quality. How much had changed since that day in September? How fast it had changed as well...such small things were so able to make waves, and Remus wondered. He wondered a great many things, but most of all he watched and waited but sought no answer. Perhaps it was because he was content, though by no means were circumstances' perfect. Interminable and tedious as each day could be...that particular date, that one last hour of light, provided enough solidity for Remus to be sure of himself. Sure and confident and all that made being happy a properly rated emotion.

In fact, after dealing with customers, he would usually want to bury himself in the covers of his bed and fall into slumber. He made plans with Severus instead, and he found he had quite a lot of meetings with the botanist, and enjoyed the time they spent together. Zabini had even expressed his shock and pleasure that they had lasted so long. Remus believed it was more chance then anything.

He wasn't tired, as Severus had asked him, and he wandered into his room and searched for something to wear. Mrs. Sprout had left early to visit a friend, and Dennis had decided the shop was slow enough for him to escape without admonishment. He didn't mind, considering he valued his time alone those days. So many had frequented the shop that Remus had to thank Harry and Draco for their influence, even if his gratitude wouldn't be well received.

Harry seemed to hate that strangers would recognize him on the street...and Draco, well, he was only annoyed that he was blessed with congratulations from friends and interlopers alike. He argued that Harry was the lucky one, and Harry said for all to hear that Draco was an arrogant prat that could barely fit his ego through the door.

They certainly made life interesting. Though the fighting could become extremely vexing (especially when they quarreled over meaningless offenses) Remus knew they used their fake anger to fuel their attraction. It was strange, odd, one-off, and all those other words for dysfunctional, but it worked for them...a lot better then niceties and pleasant companionship. He laughed when he thought about it, as most did, because though their pairing seemed ridiculous, it also seemed right. In any case, the abrupt interest the nation took to them was as beneficial to Remus as it was a burden to Harry and Draco

The loft seemed quiet that day, and though it was a welcome change, Remus wondered if they had killed each other and no one had noticed. Either that or they were...he blushed. Remus was much too old to be embarrassed by that. He and Severus after all . . .

Remus cleared his throat and set out his clothes, contemplating a shower to get the dirt off of this hands. He remembered, suddenly, that Dennis had asked him to relay a message to the lodgers. Apparently, a reporter had accosted Dennis about his relationship with the famous couple, therefore sparking an indignation from the young man that wasn't unfounded. Remus had been amused though, and he knew Draco would find it just as humorous.

His feet moved up the stairs and when he reached the door of the loft, he knocked punctually. There was no answer, and Remus sighed. He hadn't seen them leave, and given that it was Harry's day off, he expected that they would be either asleep or arguing. Harry was likely to be painting, though, and Draco on his laptop with five empty coffee mugs in front of him. He knocked again, and upon hearing no answer, he pushed the door open and was met with an empty room. Empty, in every sense.

The furniture was still there, the bottom edge of the stained glass window open, but the personal items that usually graced the tables and chairs were missing. Harry's backpack was gone, the canvases filled and stacked neatly against the wall, dishes washed but no food, and Draco's room was desolate and abandoned. No clothes, no paints, no papers, and no music. The loft was alone, but still heavy with presence and the warmth of the day. He suddenly knew that Draco's car would be gone, just as Harry's paint-stained shoes provided the steps he took away from the flower shop.

He walked around the room, examining the clean emptiness, and shook his head. It was very like Harry to not leave a note, and he remembered the last time he'd spoken with them. The night before, Blaise had come by (pissed off and hungry) and they'd all shared dinner together. Harry and Draco had been absurdly pleasant with one another, and Blaise had teased them without yielding about them being 'smitten'. They hadn't even started an unsurprising altercation, though their intensity was never eclipsed.

It made sense that they would decide to leave then. Draco had nothing to hold him back since he'd quit his job at Madison and David. Harry had never had anything tying him down...they must have decided, quite impulsively or not, that a little traveling was in order. When would they be back? Remus didn't know...and didn't much care. He was a bit shocked that Draco had agreed with Harry to leave New York, his home, but love did strange things to people.

Remus stepped into the last dredges of light from the sun, and looked around solemnly. His eyes caught the mural Harry had painted for his show, and he smiled. The city was represented with startling accuracy, and the sky above the towering buildings was almost identical to the honest one outside. With flowers sprouting up from windows and streets, acting as lamp posts and traffic signs, a beautiful Fluer-de-lis acted its part of the sun from the base of the diminishing sky. With no people, no select places, no dimensions or perfection...the mural was something Remus knew he would never get tired of looking at.

He gathered himself in their absence, and his smile grew wider. Severus would be pissed, and Mrs. Sprout excited for them. He imagined Lucius Malfoy irate, but resigned. He let his son be, of a sudden, allowing a freedom that Remus speculated had always been there...had Draco developed the nerve to look. Dennis would be upset, and the nation outraged that their celebrities had all but vanished. He wondered what he thought, himself, and was decisive.

For all of his knowledge, from accepting the oddest cultures and traditions of people, to dealing with someone like Dung, Remus had never quite gotten the gist of it. But suddenly, standing in the loft that at one time had been morbid and dusty, that was now a home, Remus understood clearly. A happiness possibly unprecedented made itself known within his heart, and just past the sly smirk of Severus' amusement, upon the sound of arguments and talk; Remus was content.

Because love's best friend was happiness, and he could finally understand what that meant.